BLOOMINGTON, MN (November 7, 2011) – More than 220 people attended the recent anti-trafficking conference, Daybreak, held at Bloomington Covenant Church on October 28-30.
The church’s anti-trafficking task force sponsored the event, which targeted clergy, medical personnel, and social service workers but was open to anyone.
On Friday evening, some of the attendees walked individually and as small groups through the Mall of America. Numbers vary greatly as to how many girls are tricked into or snatched from there to become prostitutes, but most law enforcement officials believe it happens at some level.
Most of the event focused on trafficking in Minnesota, which a government report said was thirteenth in the nation for sex trafficking. Discussions also included information about international slavery.
The forum addressed the realities of trafficking, each session building on the previous ones:
– The Realities for Kids on the Street
– The Realities in Law Enforcement Regarding Human Trafficking
– The Realities Show Up: Victim Identification
– The Realities for the Survivor
In a blog post, attendee Nancy Nordenson lamented that few law enforcement officers are specifically designated to fight human trafficking, and fewer than 100 recovery beds exist for rescued women and children. There is a long wait to get into the scarce recovery centers. (One of those centers is New Day for Children, started by members of First Covenant Church in Oakland, California.)
Nordenson, a member of Bethlehem Covenant Church in Minneapolis, wrote that the subject matter can make people uncomfortable, adding, “To be honest, I don’t even like having such darkness on this blog.”
The Sunday morning worship service, which included music written for the weekend, continued to shed light on the issue. North Park University professor Boaz Johnson spoke from the Book of Ruth and called on the attendees to pursue justice for people who have been enslaved.
Boaz grew up in the slums of New Delhi. Although he was not trafficked, some of his friends were, and he never saw them again.
Cyd Johnson was a pediatric urology nurse at a local medical clinic for children and became concerned over the high number of children from other countries who were treated for various issues, some of which led her to wonder if some of the issues were related to trafficking.
In January she quit her job to engage in anti-trafficking work full-time. She started an anti-trafficking task force at Bloomington Covenant Church, where her husband, Tim, is the pastor. She is working to connect Northwest Conference churches around the issue and has started to make presentations at various groups and churches.